I can't imagine learning flamenco without pens and paper. I really can't.
On paper I take notes. On paper I figure things out. On paper I put the thoughts that circle inside my head. And there's just something I like so much about the feel of the pen moving atop the paper.
I often write in little books
They helped me a lot in the beginning, in Sevilla.
They help me today.
And they helped me a lot in Jerez.
An excerpt from the trip to Spain that sparked the first FlamencoTour to help explain:
April 15, 2011
It seems I am becoming known for my little booklet. Today in class Odelia asked me about it.
"So, what do you do with that booklet, te vas apuntando los pasos?"
I explained to her my methods.
"Why? Does it bother you?" I asked worried that my going back and forth to record sounds and write may have become a nuisance in class.
"Nooooo," she told me, "I think it's graciosa."
I have relied on note-taking since I first began studying flamenco in Sevilla.
I guess I can't help it.
I am a writer.
I like writing and seeing things written.
And it helps
Sometimes I write down the steps in hopes that later it will help me to remember things or understand an audio recording I have taken. Sometimes it's and explanation of a body movement. Sometimes a specific detail that I don't want to forget. Usually any notes I've taken during class are sloppy. So I may go back later to make sure things are legible. I may make adjustments.
And my methods have evolved.
Now I often reflect on things after class and jot down how I felt and something I learned. A friend suggested that I do this. Gracias, Amiga.
The reflection turned into a big thing
It saved me in Jerez in 2011.
It was no longer just about getting down the steps and notes to later get things "right."
It turned into more than that. It took my experience to a different level.
It helped with the sinking in of stuff, yes.
It helped me to notice things, yes.
But most importantly,
It helped me to feel much better about my experiences in class
And it was fun.
Writing is not for everyone.
I get that.
Still, if you haven't yet, I suggest trying a bit of writing to go with your practice or class.
Perhaps it will help.
Perhaps you will like it.
Little books can also get in the way. They can become detrimental to your flamenco experience. I'll tell you how soon.
By the way, the photo above is of a student's (Alexandra's) notes from a workshop. I love her little figures and all of the arrows and seeing her process.
I wonder, do you use writing to help you learn? To help you in general? How? Let me know in the comments.
Writing in Spain
I give little books to the FlamencoTour participants. They use them for all sorts of things. Some for dance stuff, some just for taking notes around town. Sometimes I see them. Sometimes I don't. I like it.
This is a reworking of this.